Tuesday, January 31, 2012

rombot wins fla but nutes won't quit

Right. Willard "Mitt" Rom-Ney has defeated wheezy, mean old mr. Newit Gingrich, who now looks like a soft round faded puff ball lying on the beach at Miasmi, but he says he'll fight on.

Well, of course he does.

Still, one can't help but think this is the end of America's moon base.

forget the sideshow

Over at Buzzflash.com, David Swanson has a list of 15 items more important than the Republican horse race the corporate media are running 24/7 to distract us from focusing on real news and our real problems.

And since the horse race will be over after today anyhow, ending the way most of us thought it would all along, there's no excuse for not paying attention.

Here are the three things out of the 15 I think are the most important.

War with Iran: Obama says, "America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible . . . if Iran changes course." Meanwhile his Defense Secretary, Panetta, says Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program. Stay tuned for more garbled messages and consonant dissonance, and watch for an Israeli first strike.

The justifications are wearing real thin and not selling well, but the warmongers are still in charge.

Independent Republic of California: Swanson says, "California has until Tuesday and is two senators away from enacting single-payer healthcare. This is far more significant that anything that has been done at the national level for healthcare." And it's being done in the most populous and arguably the most important of the 50 states. California could conceivably exercise a limited autonomy in this and environmental matters.

General Electric is not a person and therefore not a citizen: (From Buzzflash) The Montana Supreme Court has refused to comply with Citizens United. Cities and states are taking action. Stronger bills are being introduced in Congress all the time. The latest is HJRes 100. Rallies were just held in over 100 towns and cities. Join this movement: http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5236

Don't be taken in by trivialities like the Republican horse race. The world is changing fast, and things are moving ahead.

Monday, January 30, 2012

the oceanic sense

Jack Johnson knows about the ocean, having spent his life as a surfer-musician on the north shore of Oahu. There isn't space or time here to recount the many facets of JJohnson, a complex artist who has directed films in addition to writing and performing hit songs, mostly in the soft rock and acoustic genres. (Wikipedia)

This one is deep, and that's no pun. I haven't heard too many pop songs about eternity.


I've been thinking about the history of past presidential elections, and one stands out as possibly telling us where we are, in light of our present political meltdown and systemic dysfunction. The Wikipedia article on the election of 1852 says in part:

(The Democrats) went on to win what was at the time one of the nation's largest electoral victories, trouncing (the Whigs) 254 electoral votes to 42. After the 1852 election the Whig Party quickly collapsed, and the members of the declining party failed to nominate a candidate for the next presidential race; it was soon replaced as the Democratic Party's primary opposition by the new Republican Party.

After Obama and the Democrats make barbecued pork chops out of whatever candidate the Republicans finally pick to haul their road apples in the fall election, the Greens might not be a third party for much longer. And if not the Greens, then some other entity will need to step forward to fill the power vacuum created by the collapse of the GOP.

The Whigs never really stood for anything, and so fell apart under the pressure of the country's need to deal with slavery. The Democrats split into two regional factions under the pressure, and the new party, the Republicans, opposed to the spread of slavery and slavocracy, quickly ascended to the majority.

The Republicans still stand for something, but unfortunately for them, what they stand for has degenerated into a mess of heavy bullshit, and in their choice of standard-bearers they've become self-destructive, so much so they may not answer the bell for 2016.

The American political configuration was re-made in the 1850's due to the political establishment's inability to deal with slavery, and the country's and society's need to deal with it. Today we need to deal with misallocation of resources and maldistribution of wealth. The Democrats, like their 1850's ancestors, are split by the issue, and the Republicans have nothing constructive to offer. They're going out on the tide.

Drawing: "lunacy of insomniacs" by neogothic-jam.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

the gilded age

Wealth inequality in the US is at its highest level since the tail end of the Gilded Age, which unsurprisingly was characterized by the most outrageous spectacle of political corruption ever seen until the present day.

Now that the owner of enormous hotel-casinos the world over, Sheldon Adelson, has purchased the campaign of Newt Gingrich for $10 million, we can draw exact paralells with the sort of payoffs that greased the rails of the Crédit-Mobilier scandal, and the drilling contracts sold for the oil of the Teapot Dome by the Secretary of the Interior.

And in the earlier case, we at least got a railroad and some oil out of the deals. All we could hope for from a presidency owned by Mr. Adelson would be a war with Iran, since the multi-billionaire is an extreme Zionist and one of the US's most enthusiastic cheerleaders for attacking Iran.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

the candidate

Dr. Jill Stein is a Boston physician now running for president as the nominee of the Green Party.

She recently gave the Greens' answer to Obama's State of the Union speech. It's as long as the original and quite detailed. Here are some pertinent out-takes.

To be clear: the greed for record profits is what got us into this mess in the first place. Of course it wasn’t greed alone. It was the capture of both political parties by Wall Street and other powerful corporations that buy influence with campaign contributions and lobbyists. Using this routine currency of American policy making, Democrats and Republicans alike dismantled protections against waste, fraud and abuse by Wall Street.* This bipartisan cooperation enabled greed to crash the economy.

… That not only killed jobs, it also depressed tax revenues – which has been one of the biggest drivers of the federal deficit. That deficit has also been made worse by unconscionable spending choices: notably the 4 trillion dollars spent on the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and trillions more spent on the bloated Pentagon budget, tax giveaways for the wealthy, and bailouts for Wall Street.

All of this adds up to the ongoing crisis we face – the cumulative result of many years – decades – of policies under both Democratic and Republican presidents that enrich the few while exploiting the many.

The political establishment is telling us there’s little we can do to change our direction. I don’t believe it and I suspect you don’t either.

It's time for those who have eyes to see with to turn away from the Demolicans and Republicrats, and unite behind a candidate who a) isn't insane, b) is uncorrupted, and c) doesn't double-talk. Jill Stein satisfies those criteria and has my vote.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

what is it?

"What is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?" is a very early pop-art image made by Philip Hamilton (London, 1956). He clipped most of the images in the picture from American magazines. It was the first pop work to achieve the status we call "iconic" today, due to its wide circulation.

To see a larger version of this wonderful image, go here.

stormy weather

Went for a walk for the first time in a long time today -- no drops, no freezing temps, even a little weak sunshine.

But the weather here is still not at all settled, turbulence is always threatening even when it's not storming, and I'm sure we'll be getting a lot more of the wet stuff, but hopefully not the white stuff.

Which all makes for a natural if somewhat obvious intro to this wonderful old song; Lena Horne is beautiful, theatrical, and dynamic in a classic performance.

evil nasty sinister george soros

Soros is a billionaire investor with uncharacteristically leftist political leanings. He funds a lot of causes like the ACLU, and it's probably no exaggeration to say that some leftish landmarks, such as San Francisco's Tides Foundation and the website Media Matters, wouldn't exist without him.

This, of course, makes him the Devil incarnate among the wingnuteratti, periodically stirred into major Soros hissies, the most recent detonated by a Newsweek interview in which Soros calls attention to the depth of the global economic crisis now under way, and the social unrest and violence that would result from a collapse of the Euro.

These somewhat-less-than Luciferian predictions are the source of the current spasm of Sorosphobia in the noise machine. Echoing the miniskirt Mussolinis at the Foxist News Network, one correspondent at BNet (PC users: be cautious opening the link) maintains "that GC is a truly evil, sociopathic person...that his life story and his current glee at the thought of the world in ruins, which he can make a buck on, is a testament to what I say."

And Dr. Evil himself, the geriatric boogeyman mothers scare their daughters with ("George Soros will get you!") has now committed what for right-wingers is the ultimate political blasphemy, saying there's not much difference between Obama and Romney.

That sounds an awful lot like what I and others among the leftish blogs have been saying. Crumbs! Does this mean we're evil, nasty people, like Satan incarnate Geo. Soros?

Now the evil Mr. Soros is apprehensive about what he calls "extremist conservative" types like Cardinal Senator Sanatorium, you know, that sweater-vest guy who thinks nobody should ever use Trojans, but then he says, "If it’s between Obama and Romney, there isn’t all that much difference except for the crowd that they bring with them.”

In reality, if I can broach that delicate subject, the evil Dr. Soros is a quite aged guy who doesn't look very well. Knowing that his time is drawing near, I believe he'd really like to see some substantial changes in the way the world runs, and is doing what he can to see that it happens. He's not a lot different from the occupiers who rattled Wall Street, got pepper sprayed, and got arrested at the Brooklyn Bridge. Just a hell of a lot richer.

He's sort of like Rupert Murdoch would be if he had human DNA.

spaaace ghooost

Gingrich is saying that under his presidency the US will establish some sort of base on the moon.

That's all I know or want to know about it, but if you want more you can go here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

Schnorred from TPM.

california blues

About this time each year, when the Northwest is oppressed by the incessant late-winter gloom, I start reminiscing about my SoCal days, and memories of people running around Palm Springs in shorts and tank tops on Christmas Eve.

The high today in Palm Springs was 81, and tomorrow they're expecting 85.

Got the California blues, and I'm sure gonna leave you here;
Got the California blues, and I'm sure gonna leave you here;
I may ride the blinds; I ain't got no railroad fare.

Hear it warbled sweetly by the singing brakeman, the late, great Jimmie Rodgers.

poster boys

All the Republican candidates are poster boys for something.

Senator Sanatorium is the poster boy for birth control, for example. Use Trojans or this could happen to you. Do you want a grown son wearing a sweater vest?

And Romney, thanks to his worst-of-all-possible way to release his tax information, is now the poster boy for wealth inequality and the unbridled greed of the .01%.

By stalling for so long, he drew more and more attention to the issue. By the time he released the thing it had become major news. Having put himself in the spotlight, he became the image people have in mind when they talk about systemic abuses.

There are several ways a person can handle being filthy rich. One would be the way Warren Buffet has called attention to the basic injustice of wealth distrubution via the inequities of the tax code. Romney chose not to go that route.

Paul Krugman wrote of Romney's taxes today:

...(T)he point here is not that Romney did something wrong by paying the low rates current tax law lavishes on people like him. It is, instead, that in an election campaign that will be in part about issues of inequality, the likely GOP candidate is a living, breathing, coupon-clipping example of how favorable our system is to the very rich; and he also happens to be advocating policies that would greatly benefit people like him, while hurting the poor and the middle class.

PS: Yes, my tax rate is a lot higher than Romney's. And I support policies that would raise it further.

The whole piece here.


It's a midweek morning, and I have nothing.

A good friend has survived a 10-day stomach flu. Congratulations.

The best reaction I've seen to the State of the Unyon speech is here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

communique from an outpost

Garkon! Fresh burgers and fries and corn syrup mixed with soda water for my men, s'il voo plate, and ¿have you any vehicles for sale at this place?

It was a cold, crisp day when we rolled into Attu, the land of the origins of the sperm of the grandfathers of antiquity.

We haven't seen home since can't remember when,
Lookout, you rounders, we're on the road again.

pax hoax

Obama's massive, aggressive slashing of the "defense" budget may be seen by the Islamofascists as an invitation to attack us. We're down to only 11 aircraft carriers!

The United States will not cut America's fleet of 11 aircraft carriers to help trim the budget deficit, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Saturday, citing tensions with Iran as an example of why the massive ships are so critical to national security.

I couldn't help but notice that Secretary Panetta neglected to mention how many aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines those terrorist Iranians have. But why confuse the issue with statistics, or for that matter, reality? We've got a script to read, and it says right here that Iran is an Islamofascist terrorist country and that they also don't like us or Israel. And they're going to pay for it!

And also, because they may threaten us someday with bombs they don't have yet.

Monday, January 23, 2012

flat foot

It's a chestnut of a tune about a flat-foot floogie, done here by Thomas "Fats" Waller and an enthusiastic mob of horn blowers.


I'm sure that by now everybody knows the Democrats want to force us all to watch black and white TV...and "use sandpaper for toilet paper," says Atrios, "and bring back New Coke!"

Then he adds for emphasis, Of all of the recent mostly pointless wingnuttery, the lightbulb fixation has been the most amusing/bemusing. Boy, ain't that the truth?

He also includes linkage to the Media Matters story whence this is derived.

...the efficiency standards...have been met with outrage from conservative media who spent the last year claiming that they infringe on consumer "freedom of choice." Led by Fox News, right-wing media outlets have repeatedly told consumers that the standards would "ban" incandescent bulbs and force us all to purchase "mercury-laden, ugly and smelly compact fluorescent light bulbs," to the chagrin of electrical manufacturers. Fox has even gone so far as to encourage consumers to "hoard" the old, inefficient bulbs.

So, you didn't know that compact fluorescent bulbs are a socialist plot? Well now you know.

your tax dollars at work

Even though the soldiers, sailors, and Marines are gone from Iraq, Uncle Sam still has a lot people of various kinds there. A reliable source informs me:

The 15,000 workers include private contractors rebuilding some of the damage done by the war. Some are under contract with the US and some with the Iraq government . [That number includes, The US Agency for International Development (USAID), Corps of Engineers, Depart. Of Agriculture (USDA), Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) ,Private companies include KBR, Bechtel, General Electric, ITT Corp and several companies middle Eastern countries companies employing foreign nationals (3rd counties).

That's quite a rogues gallery of the usual suspects.

What are the narcs over there for? Are they afraid someone might smoke a joint in the ruins?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

not this year

Barack Obama is not an acceptable candidate, and I won't vote for him because he hasn't done anything to address or even acknowledge the ongoing crises that prevent the US government and American society from functioning in a civilized way.

These include the regime of corruption and payoffs under which the political system operates. Corruption is both a result and a cause of the massive wealth inequality under which the majority of us suffers grevously.

Likewise, he has done nothing to loosen the grip of the war machine on our public treasury, our culture, or our reputation abroad. He has increased levels of spying and the potential for the security state's illegal mischief against citizens to levels unknown even under the fascist regime of Bush and Cheney.

I can't vote for Obama because the continuation of his presidency is incompatible with government and society. So Obama must go.

But the thought of replacing him with any of the grotesques the Republicans are attempting to sell is inconceivable, whether you consider the semi-human, semi-conscious "corporations are people too" stance of the billionaire Romney, the sexual phobias verging on true insanity of Santorum, or the calculated rage of Gingrich, a person who became an animal living entirely by instinct. If we had opposed King George III with material like this we'd still be living under Queen Elizabeth today.

Obama is not the "lesser of two evils;" he's just another part of the problem. "Lesser of two evils" thinking perpetuates the problems, and do we want to perpetuate this mess, or solve it?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

hail caesar

This is unbelieveable! Newtonianus Flatus Gingrichus wins South Kalina with 40% of votes cast.

Nero and Gaius Caligula would be so proud that someone is carrying on the tradition of enthused sexual deviants carving and cutting their way into the highest orofice in the land.

mittens 4 eva

Is there nothing else happening in this world? Do we have to be subjected ad infinitum to this un-story, this tale of a robot-oaf and his ham-handed attempts to get people to like him?

How "weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable" must seem all the events of this economically depressed world, if the Times and the Post and the Wall Street Yurnal and all this great republic's cable news networks from sea to shining sea can find nothing more interesting to jabber about than Mittens's ordeal, his agonies, and his ecstasies.

The story right now is that the anticipated Mittens victory in South Carolina and his subsequent wrap-up of the nomination is being re-evaluated, and that our media friends will be able to extract even more horse-race hysteria and more of the torture of incessant monotony out of their reality TV show, "The Great Republican Clusterschnazzle," now at 17 debates and counting.

And now it's Mitt...and now, it's NotMitt again this morning...Oh, Jeeziz, the Rehooliganz are all going to plotz!

Ah, the drama. The DRAMA of it all arouses emotions in me I've never felt before he said as he barfed copiously up his sleeve.

Really, this is about the third time Mittens has come close to putting it away, then there's a glitch in the polls or he gets PMS or something and then falls apart like the Seahawks in the fourth quarter.

Whatever gave a guy as tentative and unsure of himself as Mittens the idea that he's qualified to be preznit? His current stumble seems largely due to his blowing a simple tax-return release -- something that's standard operating procedure, but Mittens has managed to dick around and screw around with it, calling attention to it until his taxes and his disproportionate wealth become a .45-calibre issue pointed at his head and about to discharge.

Do we really even want to consider putting somebody able to blow a simple move like that one in the White House? He's even less qualified than the present current occupant, old What'shisname.

Friday, January 20, 2012

swallowing hard in florida

Now that giant Burmese pythons are breeding and growing more numerous in the Everglades, the US has gotten around to banning importation of these fearsome serpents, which are known to eat native species as large as adult deer and even alligators.

Noting that years of efforts to eradicate the snakes from the Everglades have failed, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the ban this past Tuesday, along with prohibitions on African pythons and the South American anaconda.

The one documented case in which a python was known to have swallowed a full-grown, six-foot alligator ended with the snake dying of indigestion.

Other foreign-originated species infesting the subtropical parts of Florida include a small dragon, the Nile monitor lizard, and African rats the size of raccoons.

Reuters has the whole story.

joke time

Some might say Mittens's finances are nobody's bizness but his, but as long as he's paying like 15% when there are working people paying higher rates, it's everybody's bidness.

Paul Krugman says he's "actually enjoying the spectacle of Mitt Romney doing the Dance of the Seven Veils —... it’s about time that we had this discussion."

The theme of his dance ... is taxes — his own taxes. Although disclosure of tax returns is standard practice for political candidates, Mr. Romney has never done so, and, at first, he tried to stonewall the issue... Then he said that he probably pays only about 15 percent..., and he hinted that he might release his 2011 return. ...

If Mr. Romney is telling the truth about his taxes, he’s actually more or less typical of the very wealthy. ... The main reason the rich pay so little is that most of their income takes the form of capital gains, which are taxed at a maximum rate of 15 percent, far below the maximum on wages and salaries.

So, what gives with these capital gains? They're income, right? Then they should be subject to...Oh, yeah, I forgot, "job creators."


Thursday, January 19, 2012

armchair quarterbacks

The Los Angeles Times calling Seattle residents "snow wimps" makes one wish that the City of Angels could be lucky enough to get half an inch or so. That way Angelinos could show us how it's done.


So far the only negative outcome of the storm Catboxette and I have experienced is cabin fever. Yesterday our favorite cafe, Farm's Reach, was closed due to frozen pipes.

However, it's going to get tougher when the rain comes and the branches of all the trees in the Enchanted Forest begin to bend and break under the weight of the wet snow. Power outages will become a near-certainty then. It'll be a miracle if we escape unscathed.

It's still snowing here, but Seattle is having an ice storm right now and the governor has declared a state of emergency. This isn't going to go away as soon as we thought.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

hugee pipilini (updated)

The word as reported by Politico.com is that the Obama administration will announce at 3 pm today that it will not allow the permit for the controversial XL pipeline.

But Republicans were unsparing in concluding that Obama had chosen to assuage his environmental base instead of creating U.S. jobs. They also said the responsibility for the decision rests with the president, not anyone else in his administration.

Read more.

This is a big, big deal. Those of us who have been highly critical of Obama are behind him on this one, says the environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben:

"Assuming that what we're hearing is true, this isn't just the right call, it's the brave call. The knock on Barack Obama from many quarters has been that he's too conciliatory. But here, in the face of a naked political threat from Big Oil to exact 'huge political consequences,' he's stood up strong."

McKibben's blog.

UPDATE: The thing is, you have to really parse the stuff Obama says, and read between the lines.

"This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people," Obama said in a statement.

What I'm getting from this is that he's going to approve the pipeline, but not until after he's re-elected. That's called "politics." He's simply refusing to play the stupid games the Republicans are trying to run. That's politics too.

Bill McKibben's celebration is premature.

No stars.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


If and when domestic unrest becomes too much for local police forces to handle, the central government will need to be able to call in the military.

With the passage of the National Defense Appropriation Act (NDAA) (takes effect March 3), the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. "And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until 'the end of hostilities,'” according to former NY Times reporter Chris Hedges.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is hard at work preparing for such an eventuality, and we can be sure that Big Brother's big eye is watching us closely now. With their mystical mantra, "Darpa," and the Latin motto which means "Knowledge is power," the agency s ready to move against individual outbreaks of wilfull or unconscious terrorism.

For mass outbreaks of disobedience, DARPA has other plans and is currently developing terrestrial drones in the desert near Las Vegas.

See more here

snowed in

I'm snowed in at Catboxette's house on the Peninsula. Driving would probably be possible this morning, but not worth the risk.

Tomorrow is going to be worse -- or better, depending on how one feels about heavy snowfalls. So it looks like I'm here for the week -- a minor inconvenience. I'll call my apartment manager in Seattle this morning, and if he can empty my mailbox, I'll have no problems that money can't solve.

Snow muffles all sound, and this kind of silence is ideal for meditation and reflection, but other than my own concerns I've got very little to think about at the moment. The state of the (dis)-Union offers no cause for alarm. With the remains of a dying capitalistic economic system based on predatory exploitation and a collapsing empire contested this election year by Republican fascist reactionaries on the one hand and the corrupted "Me Too" party of Democrats ("I believe in 'free' enterprise too; "We're on board with a strong 'defense' too), there's not much for it but to say "Good-Bye to All That."

Over here on the Peninsula the future is to some extent already here, and it's cold, frequently difficult to negotiate, and vastly superior to the past, with its theme parks, its cholesterol-laden dreams of endless hot dogs, and its obscene, chest-thumping ideological posturing, all of which now take a back seat to fresh pears and parsnips in the root cellar.

Monday, January 16, 2012

greenman in winter

The forest has crystallized. No significant precipitation yet, but condensed moisture has turned into a thin film of ice coating everything, especially the less-traveled roadways.

We're told that now comes the snow, which will be like a fluffy frosting on hard ice cream. The man of the evergreens doesn't mind this in the least; he actually enjoys it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


The world is being run from this room, where the conclave of high priests of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), the technocratic College of Cardinals, makes the decisions which inform the writing of the software programs that the main network, housed deep in the bowels of Fort Knox, Kentucky, uses to run all television programming, the political Punch-and-Judy show, the cash registers of all retail activity, etc.

This is the heart of Area Code 866. I know the Book of Revelation says the Number of the Beast is 666, but St. John the Divine got it wrong.

Simultaneously with controlling all activities in the public sphere, the computer system at Fort Knox eavesdrops and keeps an eye on everything everybody is doing, all the time.

The only way to get away from it is to load up a backback and tent and hike up to a higher elevation in the heavily forested Olympic range, and survive by living off the land. But even there, a spy satellite or Department of Homeland Security helicopter might spot you in a clearing.

I can't cite any sources for this information, which I learned from transmissions received via my tinfoil hat.

Friday, January 13, 2012

far away nearby

Left Seattle humming along in the cold sunshine this morning, caught a boat, and crossed over to the other side.

As soon as I get over here there's a feeling that I've left "It" behind -- the machine, or more properly the machines -- the war machine, the automatic teller machine, and all those other clanking things that sustain us and kill us.

It's colder over here, because it's in the deep forest, but bracing if you bundle up for it. Word wars get frozen fast, and stop. I'm gone for the weekend, will return maybe Monday.

Photo: "Spirit of the Forest" by Ramone Monegal.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

a whiter shade of pail

Rounding out my bucket list, Rick Santorum, rumored to be campaigning for his party's nomination for president, said today the Republicans can win back the White House only by offering a "clear contrast" to Obama.

Seemingly directing his remarks toward his chief rival, the Mittens man, Santorum added, “We need contrasts, not just a paler shade of what we have.”

I was hoping to hear some Republican say something like that before I die.

Found this item at Atrios's place, eschatonblog.com.

poor, but empowered

Americans are steadily becoming more aware of the conflict between rich and poor, as the income gap between the wealthiest citizens and the rest of us widens, and as political power becomes the sole possession of those with enough money to buy access to politicians, and is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

This is the conclusion of a Pew Research Center study, detailed in today's Washington Post.

The 99% movement has had a lot to do with raising people's awareness of these issues, but mostly the growing popular hostility toward America's plutocratic oligarchy stems from the our collective awakening to the fact that we've been robbed and our political power usurped. Knowledge is power, and this is just the beginning.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Free-radical quarterback Tim Tebow and his merry band of totally convinced Denver Broncos play in New England on Sunday, but he is not afraid.

That's OK, Tim, don't listen to what they say, just keep on thowin that foop-ball.

Believing in Tebow requires a person able to believe the impossible. Sometimes it works.

on top of old smoky

One of the more interesting flecks of debris from the New Hampshire primary is a blast leveled at a female heckler by New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie, as he spoke this past weekend on behalf of Mitt Romney. As she berated him for the employment rate "going down" in his state recently, Christie shot back, "You know something may go down tonight, but it ain’t gonna be jobs sweetheart"

Fans of the governor have been falling all over themselves since then, trying to sell the notion that Christie was saying that Rick Santorum was "going down," or something, but I'm sure they know as well as the rest of us that big Chris was telling this gal that before the rooster crowed, she might conceivably penetrate the deepest recesses of his voluminous trousers and, moving aside the folds of his pendulous abdominal tissue, be subjected to a close encounter with Smoky the Log, or whatever Mrs. Christie calls it.

good riddance

This ugly thing is about to join cigarettes and the medical practice of bloodletting in the museum of ubiquitous threats to health and safety.

If Washington State legislators have their way, the nation's first statewide ban on plastic grocery bags will take effect this year. Actually, "ban" is the wrong word, since the Seattle Times reports that:

Senate Bill 5780 and House Bill 1877 are similar. Both bills would allow plastic bags for fresh meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts or other bulk items, dairy products, ice and cooked foods.

Besides endangering marine wildlife and polluting the landscape, these nasty, non-biodegradable things symbolize the prodigal waste and careless excesses of a mindlessly materialistic society.

The Washington cities of Edmonds and Bellingham have already de-bagged, and a ban in Seattle will be enforced starting in July.

Henceforth, shoppers will need to carry their own bags to the store, which requires summoning a monumental effort that the perennial victims of eco-terrorism are sure to howl about, or pay a nickel for a paper sack.

too much snow

Winter has been extraordinarily dry in Seattle, but meanwhile Anchortown has been hit with record snowfalls, and there's more to come.

Photo from the Anchorage Daily News.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

smart shopperz

Started writing down what I spend at the store every day, and it's worse than suspected.

Shelling out 11.62 on average every time I go for groceries means almost 300 a month, assuming 25 trips this month, which is also outrageous.

Figure to cut both of those back by at least a quarter without even trying, just by paying attention. You gotta pay attention to what you need, write a list, and scan the papers and throwaways for deals. Just basic stuff, I know, but I never really thought about it that hard.

So today it was Anjou pears at Top Market in Shoreline, three pounds for $2.74. These are organic, locally grown fruit, as are the yellow onions I got for a buck .27. Also picked up some avocado and tomato on sale. Screwed up on the 2-lb, cheese though, and paid too much knowing that deals on the same thing are out there all the time. Note: if you're paying more than $2.50 a pound for Tillamook cheddar (a very good price), you're getting ripped.

On balance, I think Miss Moneypenny would be proud of me.

Monday, January 09, 2012

the sacred tablets

Sharia and Christianity are opposites, says my faithful correspondent from another universe.

Sharia is uniquely Muslim, 'tis true, my fine feathered fiend. However, whenever any society is governed according to rules laid down by the dominant religion, that's the same thing all over the world -- theocracy.

It worked about the same way in Puritan Massachusetts as it does in present-day Saudi Arabia. In 1660's Mass, if a guy got caught having an affair with a sheep, both he and his wooly friend were executed.

Even though we have our own kind of faith, The US today is not a theocracy, and the same guy nowadays would be sent away for observation, Xanax™, Valium™, and possibly a libido depressor. The sheep would receive post-sexual-abuse trauma counseling and maybe a little Trazadone™.

See how that works? The Puritans had their religion, and the Muslims have theirs, and we have ours. As Karl Marx always says when you turn him upside down or read him in the mirror, "Opium is the religion of the people."

future past

Zach Walland stands beside one of his vegetable row fields at his Dharma Ridge Farm just off Beaver Valley Road near Chimacum, Washington, already living the life that many of us will need to learn for survival, comfort, and fulfillment in the days to come.

Zach and his wife Haley Olson along with their three kids and a varying number of hired helpers run this successful 10-acre operation. Central Market in Poulsbo, among other retailers, stocks Dharma Ridge produce.

Haley Olson grew up in Chimacum as a farm girl, and met Zach Walland in 1997. He came from Upstate New York where he made a life working on small organic farms starting as a teen-ager. There he learned how to do everything that wants doing on a farm including putting up buildings and making his own processing equipment. Besides the family's house, Walland erected barns and all of Dharma Ridge's outbuildings, and improvised most of his own equipment such as strainers, washers, and sprayers out of salvage.

Looking at the lives of people like this makes me realize I was born 30 years too soon. Also, too, I think I shoud reread the essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson called "Self Reliance;. And ain't it kind of funny? The future is now the also past, and "History ain't what it used to be," to quote the inimitable Yogi Berra.

Click on the picture to embiggen.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

peaceful forest

Here in the peaceful forest, Barack Obama and Mitt Romneybot and the MidEast wars and shrill yakkety-yakking of our political nightmare are all very far away. At a quarter to seven it's still completely dark outside, and the totally still.

The forest, frigid and stiff this time of year, with faint mists hanging low among the trunks or caressing the treetops, lives at its slowest pace in December and January. Death comes now to the oldest and weakest plants and animals, which then begin to fertilize the hard earth with their decomposing bodies, providing food for scavengers and laying in future nourishment for the wave of onrushing life due to arrive four months down the road.

No comprehensive knowledge of life is possible without peace, and peace can't visit us if we are never able to slip out of our restraints and escape the tyranny of self.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

the pope

Pope Shenouda III, patriarch of Egypt and the See of Alexandria, sings the Christmas mass in Cairo this past Saturday. The very ancient Coptic Church split from the other main stream of Christianity in 451. The main body in turn split later into the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches.

About 10 percent of Egyptians are Coptic Christians.


So will the Obamanator lose his bid for a second term?

Is the question important?

The thing is, we're going to end up once again with two candidates who are totally acceptable to the .1%, rich and powerful movers and shakers who are actually calling the shots in this country -- a circumstance totally unacceptable to me and people like myself.

And with the Republican coronation of the Romneybot now assured after his landslide victory in Iowa, the stage is set for the silly season during which this pair of ruling class tools carpet bomb each other in the media for the next ten months. It's a good time not to own a TV.

I wonder how much longer the vast majority of Americans will remain dim enough to be taken in by this dumb charade whose only purpose any more is to fool them into thinking they're participating in a democracy. I'm hoping that this is year a significant number of us will wake up and reject both the Demolicans and Republicrats, and demand real democracy, free of corruption.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

bo billy

Bo Billy endured an inauspicious start in life as the seventh of five children. His father was an old bear hunter, but he ran out of old bears to kill. But that's just the romantic version; the truth is he was just an old fart who ran out of gas.

If this isn't the ultimate one and only greatest thrift-store masterpiece ever, I can't imagine what a better one would look like. This is an unsigned, anonymous original oil painting, found today at a second-hand store in Portland, Oregon.

lincoln vs douglas

Jan 5, 2012 -- 7:53AM, Ed.W wrote:

I don't understand the Liberal obsession with the GOP nominating process.

That's easily the funniest thing I've seen here this year, so far.

Turned on the teevee or radio news lately?


Personally, I don't give a hoot in hell which "looser" they nominate. It looks like it's going to be either the Romneybot or Precious Little Ricky, the all-around mama's boy and hater of all other women.

My only interest in the Republicist's party's candidate is which one presents the richest prospect for good material.

And by the way, just to head off the inevitable response, I can't stand Barack Obama either, and won't vote for him.

This has been another episode in the ongoing-too-long series, "How Wrong Can They Get It?"

Photo schnorred from the lady who writes Under the Mountain Bunker blog, but I don't know who made it.

yoga discipline

On days that I teach, it's always best to take a couple hours to prepare. Even though I can easily wing it if necessary, I'm a lot more confident if mentally prepared, and if I have a holistic sequence mapped out.

Today's class is at a senior center, so we won't be doing extreme postures like the kurmanasana pictured here. But my clients, some of whom are in their 80's, will be put through a vigorous routine of strenuous poses, modified to suit the needs of joints which are somewhat less flexible and bones more brittle than they used to be. The point is not to demand that practitioners rise to a physical standard established by heavenly bodies, but for all practitioners to realize the optimum benefit of each movement, and to adapt the movement in response to changed anatomies.

Yoga is (or should be) primarily about function rather than form. Feeling better is the point, not conforming to an ideal shape. As my grand-teacher and founder of American Viniyoga, Gary Kraftsow, is fond of saying, "This is not a competition, and it's not a performance art."


Nø maNN3 15 an iland
YNTYR3 øf 1T53Lf,
Butte 3v'rY MaNN3 15 a Part øf y3 WhøLe,
A PeeCE of ye MAINE.

--by John Donne, who, as he lay dying, was asked,,,

But I don't want to bore you with that. And, needless to say, the dear old fellow did in time pass away, without ever sending to know for whom the bell tolled.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

it's about the oil, you big dummy!

US preparations for a war against Iran are not directed at stopping the country’s alleged nuclear weapons program, but at furthering Washington’s hegemony over the strategic, energy-rich regions of the Middle East and Central Asia. The US has not abandoned the aim that drove the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq: to exercise control over the oil and gas supplies of its European and Asian rivals.

--Peter Symonds

coffee break

How about a little Truth with your mid-morning coffee? It won't make your day any brighter, just realer.

words fail

It would be fruitless for me to even attempt commenting on the results of yesterday's Iowa Republican caucuses, the mental and spiritual condition of Midwestern Republicans, or the American electoral process.

So I'll leave that to a fellow-blogger, the manly General JC Christian, who tweeted last night:

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

we keep on waiting

Through alien influences and suggestions being transmitted to me via my tinfoil hat, I've been urged to listen to more contemporary music, to expand my awareness. And since I'm horrified at the thought of becoming a clueless, doddering old fart who hasn't a clue, I'm listening to quite a bit of it.

Listen to bunches of three-minute tunes, you quickly adopt favorites -- favorite songs and favorite artists. My current favorite is a young singer-songwriter-guitar player, John Mayer, who I hear is big-time right now. His song "Heartbreak Warfare" is gorgeous, but my favorite tune of his is a more modestly-crafted, unassuming work, one which, though devoid of drama, captures the spirit of our turbulent times.

got all your fingers?

Italy is apparently a lot like Port Hadlock, where I was staying Saturday night. The residents in both places take advantage of all possible opportunities to splode stuff and set things on fire.

Reuters reports that Two men were killed and 561 other people were wounded as Italians celebrated the New Year with massive displays of illegal and homemade fireworks, the Interior Ministry said on Sunday.

The most serious incident took place in Rome when a 31-year-old man lit a large firecracker which exploded in his apartment before he could throw it out the window. The explosion set off a bigger blast of the remaining fireworks that killed him and wounded several others in the apartment, including three children, police said.

There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries in Hadlock, however, and the worst damage at our house appears to have been when the cat came in at 3:00 in the morning with a haunted look on her face.

dum & dummer

I learned from a Reuters story this morning that "Iran threatened Tuesday to take action if the U.S. Navy moves an aircraft carrier into the Gulf, Tehran's most aggressive statement yet after weeks of saber-rattling as new U.S. and EU financial sanctions take a toll on its economy."

Apparently the reporter, Parisa Hafezi, in the process of learning English as a second language has confused the meanings of "aggressive" and "defensive." Either that, or she (he?) is geographically challenged, and doesn't realize that the Persian Gulf is in Iran's back yard, rather than adjacent to the US's west coast.

Also, too, if the Iranians had an aircraft carrier and parked it at the entrance to San Diego harbor, that would by "saber-rattling," but at the moment, unlike us, they have no "saber" to "rattle."

But in the Land of the Free and the Home of TV-induced idiocy, such fine distinctions don't matter. Politico reports that according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, half of us would favor "military action" to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuke, should the current sanctions lodged against that country fail.

Asked whether the U.S. should take military action to prevent Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, 55 percent of voters said it shouldn’t, while 36 percent said it should. However, asked if the U.S. should take military action if sanctions against Iran to prevent its nuclear weapons program proved to be unsuccessful, 50 percent voted in favor of using military force.

So less than a week after our Excellent Adventure in Iraq comes to its ignominious conclusion, and as an objectiveless war in Afghanistan rages on, half of us are ready to go charging off to the Middle East one more time to secure access to "our" oil. I'm sure that a concerted propaganda campaign run jointly by the State Department and CNN can work that figure up to 70 percent in no time, just as it did during the runup to the Iraq invasion.

When I was teaching school, I noticed that there are some people so stupid they're incapable of learning anything, but their numbers were nowhere near 50 percent of the student population. However, it would be foolish to ever underestimate the power of incessant televised propaganda directed at a naive and vulnerable population.

Some of us are capable of learning, while others, given time and enough bogus information, just get dumber. Which one do you want to be?

Monday, January 02, 2012

new year

We made it to 2012, el taco grande, now designated as the year of the Mayan Apocalypse.

Not that I believe in that kind of thing. After all, none of us has a crystal ball, and the future is discernible only as an array of probabilities, and combinations thereof. But having said that, signs point to a very rough economic year ahead, for a couple of reasons:

1) The depression isn't over, and no government or group of influential capitalists seems the least bit interested in taking the obvious measures necessary to alleviate or end it, because

2) Our rulers don't care about us.

Continuing on with current conditions remaining static means among other things that the prices of houses and other real estate will continue dropping in most places, as more people are foreclosed out of their homes and the banks continue to refuse to lend money for new mortgages. Unemployment will continue at its current levels or may worsen somewhat. There will be continued inflation mostly centered in the prices of absolute essentials -- rent, food, and fuel. Money will be tight.

That's the positive prediction. The negative one would see failures among some of the largest banks in Europe and North America, with the European debt crisis shoving what used to be called "the free world" into a new round of massive depression. But I'm hoping that won't happen, and that the monopoly capitalists who rule our world will be able to stick enough duct tape on their problems to keep the seams nearly together.

Sunny Jim Kunstler says of our political life that the biggest shock awaiting us this coming year is "the massive disruption of the major party nominating conventions next summer, when thousands of angry citizens descend on Tampa and Charlotte demanding a reality test. The parties will attempt to go about their ritual business, ignoring the mischief outside the convention centers, and both parties will make the mistake of siccing the cops on the protestors."

This is true and eminently predictable, of course, and the show at those stupid conventions ought to be spectacular. But I don't believe it will be as much of a long-term revelation as the presidential election which follows, as Obama is re-elected by an enormous margin over the yet-unnamed Republican moron, whoever it is, despite the fact that the vast majority of us either hate Obama's guts or, at best, are somewhat cool concerning him. And participation in this election will be shockingly low, as more and more of us bail out of the political system altogether, recognizing that its inherent corruption has rendered it irrelevant to our problems, needs, and lives.

As for me, I'll vote for any candidate for Congress or president who signs a pledge promising to support a constitutional amendment ending corporate personhood, forbidding private money in politics altogether, and providing for publicly funded elections at the federal and state levels. Anyone who refuses or hesitates to take such a pledge can go fish as far as I'm concerned.

On a positive note, I believe the coming year will see more Americans learning to live within their means, even when those means are slender, and more of us will continue to get involved with growing food, which is gradually moving back to the center of people's lives, on a seasonal rhythm.

Photo: the US Supreme Court, photoshopped by Dan Volper.